Joint Dutch-Flemish economic mission to Texas

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Flemish First Minister Kris Peeters will lead a joint economic mission to Texas from 7 to 9 July 2013. They will be accompanied by the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, and the Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Hilde Crevits.

The mission will focus on four sectors: oil and gas, chemicals, ports, and smart grids. Delegates from more than 90 Dutch and Flemish companies will also travel to Texas. With a trade and investment dinner, seminars and company visits, Dutch, Flemish and Texan companies will forge new contacts and deepen existing ties.

Texas is one of the biggest and fastest-growing states in America. For the Netherlands and Flanders, it is an important economic partner. In 2012, trade between Texas and the Dutch-Flemish Delta region amounted to USD 15 billion, accounting for tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The port of Houston has close ties with the oil, gas, and petrochemical clusters in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Moerdijk, Terneuzen, and Antwerp. And in the areas of logistics, technological development and innovation, Texas presents many opportunities to Dutch and Flemish companies.

The programme begins on Sunday evening 7 July with a meeting with the Dutch and Flemish communities in Houston. On Monday morning 8 July, a visit is planned to ExxonMobil, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world. There, a demonstration will be held of innovative drilling technologies. Delegates from the smart grid sector will visit CenterPoint Energy, the local energy distribution company.

In the afternoon, Mr Rutte, Mr Peeters, and some business delegates will attend a networking lunch with representatives of American oil, gas, and chemical companies. This will be followed by a seminar on smart grids. Texas is at the forefront of smart grid technology, which uses measuring and regulatory systems to match supply and demand for various types of energy. Meanwhile, Ms Schultz van Haegen, Ms Crevits, and delegates from the ports sector will meet representatives of the Houston Port Authority and other large Texan ports at the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve.

The delegates will then come together for a visit to Vopak, a company that originated in Rotterdam and is now the world’s biggest independent supplier of tanker storage. At Vopak, Ms Schultz will open a new railway line. The afternoon will close with a visit to Katoen Natie, a logistics company that was founded in Antwerp. Parallel to the visits to Vopak and Katoen Natie, delegates from Dutch and Flemish oil, gas, and chemical companies will meet their counterparts from Halliburton and Total.

In the evening, a trade and investment dinner will welcome Dutch and Flemish business delegates and representatives of more than 100 American companies. A number of contracts and agreements will be signed. Prior to the dinner, the Dutch and Flemish ministers will meet Texas Secretary of State John Steen.

On Tuesday morning 9 July, the programme begins with a visit to Shell headquarters in Houston, where technical staff will meet business delegates. This will be followed by a meeting with Mayor Annise Parker of Houston.

The visit to Texas will close with an investment lunch with representatives of more than 30 American companies, which will focus on cooperation between Texas and the Dutch-Flemish Delta region in the area of petrochemicals. Delegates from several oil, gas, and chemical companies will then meet with representatives of GE Oil & Gas, Fluor, or Schlumberger. Delegates from research institutes and companies in the smart grid sector will visit GE and the Surge Accelerator and then travel to California.

The joint trade mission to Texas was prompted by a meeting between Mr Rutte en Mr Peeters in 2011, where they agreed to do more to present the Dutch and Flemish delta as a single economic region.